COMMENTARY | Despite being in the middle of the slow period of the NBA offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers continue to explore any avenue to improve the team's roster -- the latest target being Brazilian star and current free agent Leandro Barbosa.
The 2012 London Olympic Games have been a welcome platform for the 2006-2007 NBA Sixth Man of the Year. He has led Brazil in scoring with 15 points per game through five games in London. With his offensive ability, he could be a welcome addition to the Lakers' NBA-worst bench (21.3 ppg) in 2011-2012.
While most of the United States is captivated by the Olympics and NBA fans follow the every move of Team USA, the Lakers' front office remains busy trying to put together the last pieces of the championship puzzle. They have seen how effective Barbosa has been with the talented Brazilian National Team.
After an offseason that has fans, opponents, and analysts all talking about how dangerous the Lakers will be next season given the acquisition of marquee free agents Steve Nash and Antawn Jamison and key role player Jordan Hill, Barbosa's name has come up as a final component needed to make the Lakers an elite team again.
What is it that he could bring to the table, and why has he drawn the Lakers' attention?
Strong International Play in London
Though the NBA game is vastly different from the FIBA rules used in international competition, the best players in the world have come together in London to showcase what they can do on the greatest of stages. The Lakers and other suitors have to like what they've seen from the combo guard.
Barbosa leads Brazil in scoring, but it's his emotional leadership and ability to perform when the stakes are high that bode well for him as a potential fit in Los Angeles where the mantra is championship-or-bust. The biggest concern for the Lakers is that his stock could climb above the veteran minimum that general manager Mitch Kupchak is willing to pay for remaining free agents.
Do the Lakers' Needs Match Barbosa's Skill Set?
As an undersized shooting guard, Barbosa has the ability to play the point guard position and will bring that versatility to his next team. Despite his size, he is a slasher and has the athleticism to get to the basket, something the Lakers were missing from the second unit in 2011-2012. He can also stretch the floor from the perimeter as he averaged 42.4 percent from the arc in 22 games with the Indiana Pacers.
The Lakers biggest needs are quickness, youth, and athleticism -- especially with the second unit. Barbosa has the ability to contribute in each of those areas as a scorer with a lot of good basketball left at age 29. With Jodie Meeks seemingly out of the Lakers' reach, Barbosa is another guard the Lakers could sign at a bargain and get exactly what they need.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA. He has written for Southern California's Press-Enterprise and Examiner.com. For more insight, you can follow him on Twitter.
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- Los Angeles Lakers
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- 2012 London Olympic Games